in conversation with

Sean ‘Shug’ Emery

Sean Emery – known to most as Shug – is a backpacker, ex-Ringling Brothers clown, talented musician, YouTuber and recently retired entertainer. After chatting to Shug for over three hours, I would probably include Philosopher in there too.

I was lucky enough to speak to Shug and we had what felt, at times, like a very candid and personal conversation. I have watched his videos for a number of years and listened to numerous other podcasts he has partaken in. Shug comes across as a natural raconteur and seems to converse with ease.

More often than not, it seems to me that previous conversations that Shug has had with other people seem to focus mainly on his gags and entertaining/fooling around. For a long time I have always sensed the serious side of Shug (maybe the ‘Sean’ side) being supressed or held back from the light – and this is the side I wanted to tap into and find out what is really happening in the head of Sean ‘Shug’ Emery and get his genuine views on the great outdoors, how it can help us and why we should all spend more time outside. And I think I succeeded in that, and more.

I speak with Sean about life outdoors, of course, but we also touch on being a clown, prison, chocolate bars, faith, spirituality, alcoholism, introverts and extroverts, UFOs, Big Foot and so much more – it gets pretty deep!

Depending on the version you choose (the podcast or video below) you will hear different songs featured at the beginning and at the end performed by Shug himself. The podcast features the traditional American folk song ‘John Hardy‘ and the video features the Allman Brothers Band’s masterpiece ‘Whipping Post‘ – both tracks can be found in full below or on his SoundCloud site here amongst many other brilliant pieces.

What do you think that amazing, spiritual feeling you get from getting outside and immersing yourself in the great outdoors is?

John Hardy – Performed by Shug Emery featuring Laura Walker and company
Whipping Post – Performed by Shug Emery

During the chat you’ll hear us talking about the time Shug performed, as part of the circus in the 70s and with his own show, at El Reno Federal Penitentiary. Afterwards, he was kind enough to share some photographs and I can’t help but share them with you:

Thank you for your time Shug, I had a blast

Whoooo Buddy!

5 replies »

      • Hey Shug, I’m sitting here in ole Caroline finishing up a video for your youngest sibling and long time friend of mine with the fondest of memories. The excitement and admiration she always had when sharing the endeavors of you and your family of three always left me at the edge of my seat wanting to hear more. Now with her passing I find myself searching for your exsistance, still apart of those who continue to admire you from afar with a heavy heart and tear filled eyes only wondering how you are.
        Laugh Hard, Sing Loud & Continue Camping, it’s what will keep you closest to nature and to the truest form of humanity.

        Sincerely Compassionate,
        Ellie (Kim Elwood)


  1. I’m a longtime fan of Shug and HammockForums.
    I walked the line of gear nut purchaser vs DIY gear maker in the hopes of getting the perfect gear for my trips. People would argue and worry over the smallest details. Shug always brought us back to reality with “whatever works for you!!” (Just get out there and Whooooo buddy)

    The honest truth is…if you took the time you spent researching reviews on camp stoves and the Gransfors Bruk axe and instead spent that time learning skills and practicing, you’ll have tons more fun and be much more comfortable, prepared, and confident. The axe doth not maketh the man. When things go sideways, your knowledge (not your gear) will save you.

    It has been a long time since I set out solo with my kayak and hammock (and I miss it)…but the responsibility of family and babies will do that. I don’t feel like I can get away for overnights but I’m trying to get a better perspective. Teaching the wee lad to hug trees and “knock cedars” is what I can do right now.

    I really needed this video interview. Thanks to both of you.


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